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What do you think of Saiga rifles?

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Shooting Jack, May 15, 2009.

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  1. Shooting Jack

    Shooting Jack Active Member

    Jul 29, 2006
    Blackshear, Georgia
    I ordered 4 of the Saiga 223 rifles and our cost is $320.00 and I can get one at cost if I want it. I ordered 20 and 30 shot magazines to go with them. I have a 410 ga Saiga auto and have only shot it a few times. They now have 12 shot clips for the shotguns. The rifles look just like the shotguns. Are the rifles any good. What's your opinion. Jackie B.
  2. Easystreet

    Easystreet Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    I've got one of the Saiga rifles in 7.62x39. Works great. Pretty accurate too. It's basically the same rifle as the AK-47 with a different stock. Of course, it's semi-auto only.

    I would check out the magazines carefully before betting my life on them. Some of the high capacity mags have been known to have functioning and fitting problems. I ordered a few of the 10 round mags. It's easy and quick to change mags.

  3. bambambam

    bambambam Member

    Dec 26, 2005
    I love mine.Because of it my AR sets at home.Mine will shoot 2 inches at 200 yards,good for an AK mine has never jammed and I have only cleaned it once.I cannot say enough about this rifle used to be an AR guy but I have seen the light. This shooting was done with open sights.
  4. ccw1911

    ccw1911 Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Good value for com block weapons. Become familar with 92R if you are going to use high caps and other modifications.
  5. Shooting Jack

    Shooting Jack Active Member

    Jul 29, 2006
    Blackshear, Georgia
    ccw1911, I looked and looked and did not see a 92R. I don't intend to make any mods to the gun and as a dealer I never, ever make any changes to the guns I sell. I don't believe there is any liability to selling high cap magazines, especially here in Ga. Thanks for yor response though. Jackie B.
  6. Steve W

    Steve W Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Los Angeles
    Saiga rifles were manufactured by the same manufactory that makes the original AK. It's the same AK receiver with an added link to move the trigger backward.

    It's as reliable as AK, but generally more accurate.

    The feeding ramp is different from AK, it's made not to take original AK magazines. Saiga magazines has higher front lips, there're ways to lower the feeding ramp for using AK magazines (I'm not suggesting anything here).

    10 or so years ago, it was $165 when everyone is buying the SKS, it was a real bargain, even at today's price, it still is.
  7. ccw1911

    ccw1911 Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Maybe this cut and paste will help you understand the implications of 922R
    Many people take the Saiga rifles and shotguns and add a few parts to convert them into something more like a ak configuration. If you do this you must add a certain amount of US made parts to be legal. Just throwing this in for information if you decide to buy one of these rifles and do any modifications to it such as adding hi cap magazines.

    For those who get into the world of battle rifles - particularly AK-style - you're going to find yourself having to deal with Federal regulations. Specifically, compliance with 18 USC 922R.

    There's lots of debate about what is and is not covered under 922R. I am not a lawyer, but I'm going to present my layman's understanding and interpretation of the compliance requirements. These are my opinions only -- and I don't encourage anyone to take a legal stand based on them.

    What is 922R?

    Title 18 of the US Code (18 USC), Chapter 44 Section 922 provides guidance on unlawful acts as they relate to firearms. You can read the text of the law by clicking here.

    Section 922 Paragraph R states:
    "It shall be unlawful for any person to assemble from imported parts any semiautomatic rifle or any shotgun which is identical to any rifle or shotgun prohibited from importation under section 925(d)(3) of this chapter as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes except that this subsection shall not apply to--
    (1) the assembly of any such rifle or shotgun for sale or distribution by a licensed manufacturer to the United States or any department or agency thereof or to any State or any department, agency, or political subdivision thereof; or
    (2) the assembly of any such rifle or shotgun for the purposes of testing or experimentation authorized by the Attorney General. "

    Most of us don't fall under those exceptions, so we are left to deal with meeting compliance with the law.

    "Sporting" Purposes
    Here's where things get a little tricky. Some rifles, such as the Saiga line, are imported for sporting purposes in a particular configuration. Generally, that means that do not incorporate any of the "evil" features that are typically associated with so-called "semi-automatic assault weapons". Chapter 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations Section 478.11 defines these SAWs. You can read the law, here. Specific examples of these features include:

    - High capacity (greater than 10 round for rifles, 5 rounds for shotgun) magazines
    - Pistol grip attachment
    - Folding buttstock
    - Muzzle device/attachment (to include a threaded barrel capable of receiving a device)
    - Bayonet lugs
    If your rifle or shotgun incorporates those features, it no longer is considered "suitable for sporting purposes".

    Assembling Semiauto Rifles and Shotguns
    If your rifle or shotgun is subject to 922R, you must now make sure that it is in compliance with the regulations governing the assembly of semiautomatic rifles and shotguns. That is covered in Title 27 Chapter 1 Section 178.39. Click here to see the text of the law. It states :
    (a) No person shall assemble a semiautomatic rifle or any shotgun using more than 10 of the imported parts listed in paragraph (c) of this section if the assembled firearm is prohibited from importation under section 925(d)(3) as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.

    Paragraph (C) defines the following parts as "countable" under the law:
    (1) Frames, receivers, receiver castings, forgings or stampings *
    (2) Barrels *
    (3) Barrel extensions
    (4) Mounting blocks (trunions) *
    (5) Muzzle attachments *
    (6) Bolts *
    (7) Bolt carriers *
    (8) Operating rods
    (9) Gas pistons *
    (10) Trigger housings
    (11) Triggers *
    (12) Hammers *
    (13) Sears
    (14) Disconnectors *
    (15) Buttstocks *
    (16) Pistol grips *
    (17) Forearms, handguards *
    (18) Magazine bodies *
    (19) Followers *
    (20) Floorplates *
    These 20 items are referred to with the term "compliance parts". There are lots of other components that go into a weapon, but there are the only ones that count in terms of complying with the law.

    The 16 items marked with an asterisk are the parts that are generally found on a standard AK 47. The Saiga sporter rifle, as imported, does not have a muzzle device or pistol grip, so it has 14 countable parts. A Saiga shotgun has 13 countable parts (the trunnion is considered part of the receiver) - 14 if the barrel is threaded.

    So once you have done something to take your rifle or shotgun out of a "sporting" configuration, you must now make sure that your weapon has no more than 10 of these parts that are imported.

    Complying with 922R
    Now the trick is making your weapon compliant with the law. To do that, you will need to replace 3 to 6 of the existing parts with components made in the US.

    Here are the parts that most owners use to achieve 922R compliance:
    - Trigger
    - Hammer
    - Disconnector
    - Buttstock
    - Pistol grip
    - Handguard (upper and lower handguards on an AK only count as 1 compliance part)
    - Gas piston
    - Magazine parts (Note: body, follower and floorplate each count as 1 compliance part).

    So you can see that there are plenty of ways to achieve 922R compliance. Personally, I think relying on magazine parts to meet compliance is risky: if someone puts a foreign-made magazine in your weapon, you are now in violation of Federal law. Better to use the other parts for compliance and save the magazines as a "nice to have" compliance option.

    Calculating Compliance

    How you figure your compliance is up to you. Some people just count up the number of foreign parts and make sure it's less than 10. They don't consider any added parts if they are US-made. Personally, I prefer to start with the total number of compliance parts in my rifle/shotgun, then work backwards. To me it's safer, in the event that somewhere down the road you change out one part for another.

    Here's an example: I have a Saiga AK with pistol grip and muzzle device. Using the guidelines for countable parts, that gives me 16 parts. In order to be compliant, I must have at least 6 US-made parts in my rifle. My rifle has the following US parts:
    Trigger, Hammer, Disconnector, Compensator (muzzle device), Gas piston, magazine floor plate and magazine follower. That gives me 6 parts and means I am complying with the law.

    You'll notice that I broke my own rule about using magazine parts. That's because the buttstock and pistol grip I ordered turned out to be made in Israel, so they do not count as compliance parts. Unfortunately, they are so well-made and comfortable that I don't want to replace them! I also had the stock Saiga handguard customized, so it doesn't count for my compliance either.

    On my Saiga shotgun, I had 14 countable parts. In order to meet compliance, I installed the following US-made parts:
    Hammer, trigger, disconnector, buttstock, pistol grip, external choke (muzzle device), US-made magazines.

    That gives me a total of 9 US-parts -- and I only need 4. So while I have US mags to use, I'm not limited to them like I am with my Saiga rifle.

    Special Saiga Considerations

    The Saiga rifle is imported in a sporter configuration and thus is not subject to 922R compliance. That is....until you decide you want to use high capacity magazines! If you plan on doing a full AK conversion, then there's generally no problem -- the conversion parts (fire control group, buttstock, pistol grip) usually take care of compliance.

    Some people, though, want to keep the sporter configuration but use high caps - and that takes a little more creativity. There are 14 countable parts in the Saiga sporter (no pistol grip or muzzle device).

    Quick compliance parts include:
    - Handguard: TAPCO makes an AK-specific, Galil-style handguard (1 compliance part)
    - Gas piston: US-made gas piston (either AK 47 or AK 74) (1 compliance part)
    - Trigger: You can modify a TAPCO G2 trigger to work in the stock Saiga firecontrol group (requires grinding and cuttting) (1 compliance part)
    - Hammer: You can install a TAPCO G2 hammer in the stock FCG (1 compliance part)
    - Magazines: Complete US made mags (like ProMag or Thermold) or US followers and/or floor plates in foreign magazine bodies (1-3 compliance parts)

    Another popular "quasi conversion" is to use the ACE Saiga receiver block/pistol grip combo, like this. This gives you an AK-like grip/buttstock without having to move the FCG. Adding the pistol grip ups your parts count to 15. Since ACE equipment is US-made, the buttstock and pistol grip each count as 1 part. That means you only need three more (from the list above) to be compliant.

    Be aware that there is also a Russian-made version of the same block/grip combo. You can use it, but you then have to find 5 replacement parts to be compliant.

    There are also two kinds of Surefire magazines designed for the Saiga rifle. There are all-plastic ones that are US-made and count for compliance. The older versions are metal bodies, and although Surefire is a US company, the magazines use foreign parts and do not count for 922R compliance!
  8. Shooting Jack

    Shooting Jack Active Member

    Jul 29, 2006
    Blackshear, Georgia

    Is it safe to assume that since I am purchasing these guns from Bangor's or Ellett Brothers that they meet the 922R requirements. I guess I will leave it in the original configuration but will keep the high cap clips just in case I need them at a later date. Jackie B.
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